• - A review of In Extremo's Tranquilo - Akustisch Live 2010 + Raritäten

    In Extremo - Tranquilo - Akustisch Live 2010 + Raritäten

    Back in 2015, German folk metal legends In Extremo celebrated their twenty years of existence with a massive boxed set entitled 20 wahre Jahre which contained the band's studio records as well as one disc with an acoustic live performance from 2010 and one disc with rarities taken from singles and special editions. Most people weren't willing to pay one hundred bucks or more just for two interesting discs which was also my case. Thankfully, the band has released those two exclusive discs separately a little bit more than three years later and I was finally able to buy a copy of this limited release in Frankfurt this past summer. It was definitely worth watching and waiting for this amazing release.

    Most bands sound watered-down, soft and dull when they transform their regular songs into acoustic versions. That can't be said about In Extremo at all. The low emotional vocals unfold even better in this context. Session drummer Adrian Otto plays with much energy, pace and precision. The acoustic bass guitar sounds more predominant than usual. The acoustic guitar play is diversified, melodic and quite playful. Most importantly, the numerous folk instruments such as the bagpipes, harp and shawm unfold amazingly here and aren't disturbed by domineering plugged guitars. The sixteen songs played in that context are true gems and sound at times even better than the regular studio versions. The usually overlong ''In diesem Licht'' convinces with its hypnotizing Orient folk soundscapes on this release. ''Lebensbeichte'' becomes a danceable fast-paced tune as opposed to the plodding melancholic original version and this change is equally surprising and convincing. ''Merseburger Zauberspruche II'' unfolds its full epic potential in this version and the vocals are particularly inspired here. The set list offers alternative takes of In Extremo's classics and focuses on the band's most recent record Sangerkrieg back then. I didn't appreciate said album that much but the songs sound excellent in their inspired acoustic versions. I wish the band did another series of acoustic shows next year and the septet should certainly release those alternative versions again.

    The rarities aren't just consisting of shallow alternative and demo versions of known songs but actually include some precious gems. Brandnew band anthem ''Loreley'' has been specifically written and performed for the band's twentieth anniversary and sounds energetic, epic and joyful as it stands out as one of the band's greatest songs ever. ''Konigin'' is taken from the Kuss mich single and is a raw love song with hypnotizing bagpipe sounds, simplistic but highly efficient harp sounds and wonderful percussive elements in the excellent bridge. ''Captus est'' might be the band's best b-side ever and was even played in concert as it convinces with a memorable chorus of epic proportions, addictingly heavy guitar play and wonderful use of folk instruments. The alternative version of ''En esta noche'' featuring additional passionate lead vocals by José Andrëa of former Mago de Oz fame sounds much better than the original version as In Extremo has always made successful collaborations. ''Herr Winter stammt vom Kaukasus'' is a song for children which has been transformed into a comforting smooth folk tune by In Extremo. There isn't one single dull song among those rarities. Most medieval rock bands don't even have regular songs which are as amazing as In Extremo's rarities.

    In the end, this release isn't only essential for In Extremo fans but for anyone who likes folk rock and metal. The acoutsic concert and selection of rarities underline In Extremo's status as greatest folk band that has ever emerged from Germany and even as greatest contemporary band from Germany in my humble opinion. Long live In Extremo! 

    Final rating: 100%

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